The Illinois High School Association Girls Basketball Tournament tips off Friday morning.
The top 8, 1A and 2A teams will be gearing up for yet another year of the IHSA Girls Basketball Tournament. While everyone has their sights set on being crowned winner, the staff behind the event just wants everyone to soak up the experience.
“The girls in the lower classes have much smaller gyms and have never played in front of a crowd this size,” said Sarah Bonnett Tournament Director with ISU. “It’s just the glow that the girls get, they are just so excited.”
For the past 30 years ISU’s Redbird Arena has been home to the IHSA Girls Basketball Small Schools Tournament.
“You’re going to see a lot of excitement,” said Beth Sauser, IHSA Assistant Executive Director. “We have teams that have been here multiple years, multiple times and we have teams that essentially haven’t been here in ten years so its almost as if its their first trip.”
For those programs experiencing this for the first time in a long time, this tournament is the community’s chance to showcase what Bloomington-Normal has to offer.
“It’s a fantastic oppurtunity for the community to show what Bloomington-Normal is all about,” said Sauser. “You have fans and teams staying in hotels in both communities, restaurants, gas stations, shopping.”
All of which go into creating a large economic impact for both of the Twin Cities.
“We’ve estimated that the economic impact for these two weekends for grls basketball is about a little over $1.4 million dollars,” said Matt Hawkins Sports Marketing Director for Bloomington Normal Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The visitor spending from those visitors is important because it can create local employment, could create personal income, subsequent respending in the economy.”
But Hawkins says its not just the Twin Cities that benefit from the tournament, homeowners could get an assist on their taxes.
“Visitor spending in Illinois per year saves the average household $1,400 in taxes annually,” said Hawkins. “That stat is for the state of Illinois as a whole but that trickles down to Bloomington-Normal specifially.”
The first game is Friday at 11 A.M. and its a showdown between the Eastland Cougars and the Tri-County Titans.